Robert Wickens back on track despite his new normal: 'An injury doesn't define who you are'

Robert Wickens became a paraplegic in a horrifying 2018 Indy Car crash.
IMSA Wickens Wins Auto Racing
Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 19:30:28-05

"Life's never been better," Robert Wickens says with a laugh.

Robert Wickens almost always seems to have a smile on his face, despite his new normal.

"Life was great until suddenly it wasn't," Wickens says.

Wickens became a paraplegic in a horrifying 2018 Indy Car crash.

"An injury doesn't define who you are," Wickens says. "You know, you can really, with a lot of hard work, determination. And I believe, positive outcome, you can achieve a lot more than you think. You think about it every day, because the elephant in the room is I'm still in a wheelchair and I'll likely be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. And it's not, I don't think about it in a sad way. It's just, there's moments. If there's something on the top shelf in the fridge that I can't reach? You just think like, oh, stupid wheelchair. I need to figure out how can I get this," Wickens says.

But he doesn't allow it to affect his attitude, as now he gets to use hand controls in sports cars.

Lance Allan asks, "Why do you have a joy about you? Why are you always smiling?"

"I think it's, I mean, life's pretty great right now, you know?" Wickens says. "There's always good days and bad days like everyone has to be spoiled. But right now, a big part of my rehab was to return to racing again."

Lance Allan asks, "When people say you're an inspiration, how do you react?"

"Awkwardly I think," Wickens says. "I never entered this profession trying to be an inspiration. I, really, my recovery was twofold. I wanted to give my wife the wedding of her dreams. Which was give her a first dance and try to stand at the altar. So my recovery was very driven towards that at the beginning. And then once we ticked that box? I wanted to get back to what I love to do, which was drive race cars. So the odd thing about paralysis is, I could have sat on a couch and ate cheeseburgers and maybe recovered better than I did working out six hours a day, six days a week. You know, the human body does crazy things and it actually took until the pandemic, once gyms were closed to realize actually how much I was overtraining. And I got significantly stronger the two weeks after I wasn't able to work out because my body finally recovered fully for the first time."

Wickens and co-driver Mark Wilkins had three podiums, and two wins. And oh yeah, by the way, Wickens and his wife had a baby boy. Quite a 2022, and he doesn't plan on quitting now.

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